How do I speed up my divorce?
Has it been many months? Over a year? Years (plural)? There are plenty of good reasons why a divorce may take longer than you expected. Sometimes, it's nobody's fault and the case is just very complex. Sometimes however it's more than that and the reason the case is going slow is your spouse, your spouse's lawyer, your lawyer, you or a combination. Let's take a look at these and talk about solutions.
How to speed up your divorce
Is your spouse or spouse's lawyer the problem?
Yep. This happens. Your spouse is unreasonable and difficult.
Child custody, child support or alimony, even property division can take a lot longer than it should when a spouse takes unreasonable positions and drags out the process.
The most common reasons we have seen this include:
1. A spouse who takes ridiculous child custody positions that are not consistent with the children's best interest.
This includes cases that involve false allegations of domestic violence or child-abuse, parental alienation, or the children simply being used as leverage for a variety of reasons, including trying to punish the other spouse or financial reasons such as child-support. Sometimes, we also see parents who have no business asking for the custodial time to which they "feel" like they are entitled. That is when common sense leaves the door.
2. Divorce cases that involve self-employed spouses sometimes drag on.
That's because either the self-employed spouse is playing games with his or her income and underreporting it or the other spouse claims the self-employed spouse makes a heck of a lot more money than he or she really does.
3. Property division and cases that involve splitting assets in a California divorce can also cause a divorce to take a lot longer than expected.
This is especially true when a spouse makes a separate property claim to an asset or property that is not well supported by the facts or law.
4. Your spouse's lawyer is feet churning.
Yeah, I wish this did not happen but it happens more than some think. You may think your spouse is the problem but really it's his or her lawyer. Some lawyers are just unethical and use the family law process to make a bad situation worse. They often do this by giving a spouse unreasonable expectations and then billing a case to death to make as much money as possible as opposed to focusing on their client's best interest.
Solution: speed up your divorce by using a sanctions motion and California Family Code 271.
Family Code 271 is a powerful statute. It gives you the ability to seek attorney fees and costs against your spouse even when you don't have a need for it. In other words, section 271 doesn't care about your ability to pay your own fees. It punishes unreasonable behavior regardless of whether or not you have a need.
You still have to show your spouse or your spouse's lawyer unreasonably delayed the case but that is documented if you and your lawyer have been actively engaged in trying to resolve issues.
Family Code 271 is a hammer but it isn't a bullet. It cannot cause an undue hardship to the other spouse…but I'll let you in on a little secret - the more outrageous your spouse's unreasonable conduct and delay tactics while driving up attorney fees, the harder it will be for your spouse to argue that paying some of all of your fees would cause an undue hardship.
Is your divorce lawyer slowing the process down?
1. Fee churning.
Uh oh. Do you have one of "those" lawyers? Did you hire someone on emotion and think you could outspend your spouse? Or did you buy a good story when you hired your lawyer and your bill has gone through the roof over litigation you didn't know about and never authorized. If your divorce lawyer is churning the file, that may explain the delays. Churning is spending time (and your money) unreasonably and unnecessarily. Lawyers who churn files care more about their billing than they do resolution or results. Beware of fee churners.
2. Your lawyer is unable to move your case along.
This could be for a variety of reasons. Your lawyer is too busy to get to your case. You have not been cooperate with your lawyer and allowed your lawyer to do what he or she wants. Your lawyer lacks the experience to know what to do.
Solution: speed up your divorce by setting reasonable goals and timelines or it's time to get a new divorce attorney
Communicate. It's the key. Your divorce case won't take care of itself. Plan a budget and a strategy with your divorce lawyer. Then, execute it. If your lawyer has laid out your options for you, don't sit on your hands. Make choices. If you have questions, ask them.
If your lawyer is churning the file and you are pretty sure that's been the cause of the delay, start looking for another attorney. There are good divorce lawyers in California that can help you. Don't get stuck with a bad one.
Are you the reason your divorce is dragging on?
This one is simple. Sometimes your spouse is the problem. Sometimes, you are. Look at the divorce case objectively and ask yourself if common sense, logic, the facts and the law have dictated your decision or if you have been a ball of emotion that either struggles to make decisions or makes poor ones, often against good advice.
Divorce isn't about revenge. It's not an opportunity to punish your spouse. No matter how many people may think otherwise, winning a divorce isn't always about making things as difficult as possible for your spouse until he or she surrenders. These are unfortunate perspectives that are sometimes shared by spouses. They rarely if ever result in anything productive.
Solution: Speed up your divorce by getting reasonable and becoming a long-term thinker
If you have a good lawyer, then he or she has been objective with you. Your lawyer should tell you the cost and benefit of certain courses of action as well as whether a particular direction is consistent with the facts, law and his or her experience. Listen. Take care to follow advice and if you are not sure, ask questions. Get reasonable or get poor and start thinking long-term because your divorce will eventually end.
Ready to speed up your divorce?
If you're frustrated, you know you haven't been the problem and you want to find a way to speed up your divorce, give us a call. We are experienced family law attorneys with offices in Orange County and Los Angeles. Our family law firm represents husbands and wives in Orange County, Los Angeles and each of the other five Southern California counties.